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tv   All In With Chris Hayes  MSNBC  January 20, 2014 5:00pm-6:01pm PST

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criminality. if, on the other hand, it is discovered that governor christie did not encourage political revenge, did not signal that this is the way he wanted political business conducted, then he will be exonerated before the eyes of the country. the facts will decide it. and that's the way it should be. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. new, stunning accusations leveled against the administration of new jersey governor, chris christie, of possible illegality, threats, and the withholding of federal aid for sandy relief, a story broken right here on msnbc. we'll be talking to the reporter who broke that story. but first, today, the christie administration is pushing back hard, in fullout denial mode as the political future of the governor hangs in the balance. >> mayor zimmer's version of our
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conversation in may of 2013 is not only false, but is illogical and does not withstand scrutiny when all of the facts are examined. any suggestion, any suggestion that sandy funds were tied to the approve of any project in new jersey is completely false. >> reporter: new jersey lieutenant governor kim lagano today is denying the allegations made against the christie administration this weekend on msnbc. allegations of possible criminal behavior from the christie administration, pertaining to the city of hoboken and the hurricane that devastated it 15 months ago. >> late tonight, streets in the southwest corner of hoboken are still underwater, abandoned cars littering the streets. >> reporter: after the storm hit, chris christie promised the
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people of hoboken in person that their city would be rebuilt. >> i spoke to the mayor this morning and told her that hoboken is in the front of my mind. and whenever there's any assistance needed here, we would be here to help. >> hoboken's mayor, dawn zimmer, said she applied for over $100 million in grants, but received just over $300,000 from the state. zimmer was frustrated. on may 8th last year, she wrote to the governor, saying, please, governor, we need your help. i have tried to assure hoboken residents that hoboken would be treated fairly, because you have always treated hoboken fairly in the past. on the same day zimmer wrote christie that letter, hoboken's planning board voted against a multi-million project being pushed by a developing corporation called the rockefeller group. rockefeller wanted to develop a three-block stretch of hoboken's north end. the rockefeller group hired the jersey law firm, wolff and
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sampson to represent them. sampson as in david sampson, christie's top port authority appointee and adviser and whose name pops up many times in the ft. lee traffic scandal e-mails. in less than one week after zimmer wrote asking for money and the city voted against the rockefeller development deal, zimmer met with lieutenant governor kim gaundano at an event. >> zimmer has told us that gaundano pulled her aside during that visit and delivered a message to her. if you want that sandy money, you need to get that rockefeller project moving, because it's very important to the governor >> zimmer says she documented the incident in her journal, writing that gaundano said to her, i don't know all the details, but i was with the governor friday night and all i know is that the impression is that you are against this project and you have to move it
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forward. >> the fact is that the lieutenant governor came to hoboken, she pulled me aside in the parking lot, and she said, i know it's not right, i know this thing should not be connected, but they are, and if you tell anyone, i'll deny it. >> and the lieutenant governor was not the only christie official who directly linked sandy money to approving the rockefeller development deal, according to zimmer. that same week, zimmer attended a public event where she sat on stage with this man, richard n constab constable, a member of christie's cabinet. zimmer wrote in her journal that constable said to her, "i hear you are against the rockefeller project. everyone in the state house believes you are against it. the buzz is that you are against it. if you move that forward, the money would start flowing." constable called zimmer's allegations patently false and absurd on their face. but even after these encounters, zimmer maintained, at least publicly, the good relationship with the governor, that is, until earlier this month, she
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expressed concerns about how sandy money was distributed in the state. >> it's a lot less and i was extremely disappointed. and at the time, i was angry, because i felt like the focus was on the shore. >> today, the christie administration is going to the wall, defending itself against what it has called patently false allegations. meanwhile, yesterday, zimmer met with u.s. attorney paul fishman for several hours. right now, this is a he said/she said story, but only one side has spoken to and turned the over her journal to authorities. she now faces the threat of prosecution if she's lying. joining me now is steve kornacki, the host of "up" on msnbc, who broke the story over the weekend on his show. steve, phenomenal reporting. >> thanks. >> great work. >> thank you. >> all right, so let's subject this to the massive amount of scrutiny here. you've got the christie camp coming out and saying that this is characterizing her as a
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partisan mayor with an ax to grind. what's your response to the characterization that this is a democrat who wants to take down chris christie, waited until things -- he was softened up by this scandal and now she's coming in for the kill. she wants to get her name in front of the camera. >> this is all the questions we had -- and ultimately, i'm not here to say that mayor dawn zimmer is telling the truth. i don't know. the story, for all i know, could collapse. but what happened was, she was willing to go on the record with allegations and she was willing to provide diaries. she's willing to provide documents that show an interest in this project in hoboken from one of the governor's top political allies, you know, the chairman of the port authority, whose copied on these e-mails. they're trying to set up meetings and teleconferences with him. she was able to establish that through documents and in diaries. so i think it's certainly credible enough and plausible enough to let her go on the record with that allegation on the show. one of the things, though, that when we're sort of subjecting to it that plausibility test during the week is that question, okay, if she tweeted positive things or said positive things about
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him, why would that be? a couple things come to mind when we think about that in terms of plausibility. one is that the long-term story of dawn zimmer's relationship with chris christie is one of an alliance, of a partnership, as you said in that piece there. she was a democrat, but a pro-christie democrat in a lot of ways. even on our show on saturday, she was talking about, she felt he had done really good work in a lot of ways as governor. so this was, you can understand that it would be somebody with a lot of conflicted feelings about him as a governor, about what he had done for the state. the more practical consideration, of course, would be, look, the reality being a mayor, being the mayor of a city that's particularly dependent on the state has to interface with all sorts of state agencies on a daily basis, and you're coming up against a governor who's at about 75% in the polls, is coasting to re-election, you happen to be running on the same ballot for re-election. he ends up doing better in hoboken than she did. so that's not somebody in the political climate. you want to make the plausibility case, the plausibility case in the
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political climate, she couldn't do it. >> i have no special insight into the credibility of dawn zimmer on this particular issue. it does seem to me that we're at a point, if you believe she has fabricated this, she has gone to tremendous lengths to fabricate it. i think we can all agree, if this was fabricated, there's a lot of work put into fabricating it. >> and that's the thought that occurs to me. because the story that had been in the news, she was asked several times by reporters, because she was very vocal about not having the sandy aid, do you think that was because you didn't endorse chris christie? it just occurs to me, if you want to score political points in her position, that's a pretty easy claim to make. she's saying she didn't get the sandy funds she needs, the press is already on that story. she could have easily gone out there and made that claim. so the idea that she fabricated this whole thing out of thin air, i believe, and i'm pretty well convinced that she believes this happened. >> now, whether there's gradations to the story -- >> or mixed signals, that's the other thing.
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>> i want to hammer this home for a second. let's take a look at her interview with you on "up" this weekend. take a listen. >> we have one square mile, we have -- we're the fourth largest densely populated city in the country, so we have to look very carefully at these things. the rockefeller group, they own four acres. there's another property owner that owns nine acres. so i cannot give a windfall to one property owner, because the governor wants me to, in exchange for the sandy funds. i'll tell you, i feel like i'm literally between a rock and a hard place. >> two striking things about that. one is, she seemed to be defending her position on development, even in this conversation, it was like, she was sitting across from the governor's people, trying to explain to them why she couldn't make the development go faster. and number two, i mean, i think -- i just want to -- if it is true, again, conditionally, if it is true, what is being alleged here is deeply, deeply, deeply disturbing.
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we are talking about federal taxpayer dollars, for sandy mitigation and relief, in the wake of this horrific storm that happened. the site of a huge political battle on capitol hill. that money being held hostage and used to make sure a private developer is given a government favor that will mean millions of dollars in private profits. i mean, this is absolutely facially corrupt, probably illegal, if it turns out to be -- >> yeah, yeah, if it's true. and i think, even beyond the legal questions, if it's true, i think there's something in the public's mind that is sacred about sandy money and sacred about sandy funds. if you had a situation where the allegation was general local aid was being held up, that would be troubling and disturbing, but i think this crossing a certain threshold in the public's mind, because the possibility that sandy funds themselves are involved. in terms of the project, i think that's something -- there is a case that could be made. the administration has not come out and made its case, maybe it will. we asked her on the air, why was
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the administration so interested, and she asked this in her journals. why was the governor so interested in this development project? the connection that's drawn through these documents, the chairman of the port authority, his law firm represents the developer, all of this stuff. the argument the kris tchristie administration could make, the unemployment rate is high -- >> on policy grounds, this is a policy decision, had nothing to do with david sampson or enriching some private developer. on policy grounds, we want to see development, we want to see construction and we need those jobs. >> but where it gets tricky, if they start going down that road -- and this is all hypothetical. we've heard kim gaudano basically confirm there was a conversation outside that shopco. but it's possible that the story from the governor's side here would be, well, she was there to promote this development or one of the things on her agenda, one agenda item was to promote this development project. and if you had governors, you wouldn't even be talking about
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that. so that's a complicated -- >> i want to give dawn zimmer a chance to also respond to the denials. this has now moved quite rapidly. she says, i am genuinely disappointed that lieutenant governor gaudano would live up to her promise that she would deny linking hoboken's application for sandy hazard mission funding with expediting private development project. i stand by my word, and i will continue to answer any questions asked to me by the u.s. attorney's office. this is a massive escalation in terms of the legal stakes and ramifications, when someone is sitting down with a u.s. attorney, federal prosecutor, for two hours. >> absolutely. and again, what i'm talking about, sort of the scrutiny that we subjected her claims to and the plausibility test that we were subjecting them to before, saying, okay, you know, come on and go on the record or tell this story. that's one of the things. there was no awareness on her part that, yes, by going forward
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with this, the u.s. attorney will probably be interested. law enforcement will probably be interested. and she said it on the air. you know, look, she said, i'm happy to go under oath, happy to testify, happy to go before any body that's looking into this. so the fact that a public official, the leader of a pretty major city in new jersey wants to go on the record, wants to talk to federal prosecutors about this. it speaks to somebody who's very confident in her version of events. >> steve kornacki, fantastic reporting. fantastic work. >> thanks. >> you can catch steve's show weekends 8:00 a.m. on msnbc. go! [ male announcer ] it's chaos out there. but the m-class sees in your blind spot... ♪ pulls you back into your lane... ♪ even brakes all by itself. it's almost like it couldn't crash... even if it tried. the 2014 m-class. see your authorized dealer for exceptional offers through mercedes-benz financial services.
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when governor chris christie was first asked about the traffic in ft. lee, this was his now-infamous response. >> i worked the cones, actually. unbeknownst to everybody, i was actually the guy out there. i was in overalls and a hat, but i actually was the guy working the cones out there. you really are not serious with that question? >> a few weeks later when time for some traffic problems in ft. lee came out, christie had to eat some crow on that. >> i would never have come out here four or five weeks ago and made a joke about these lane closures if i had ever had an inkling that anyone on my staff would have been so stupid but to be involved. well, let me tell you,
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everybody, i was blindsided yesterday morning. >> and when governor christie was asked if anything else, revenge, retribution, bullying tactics like this might come out, he very pointedly said this -- >> i'm smart enough now, after this experience, not to go out there and certify that, unequivocally, okay? i don't have any evidence before me, as we speak, that it went beyond this incident. but i can't tell you that i know that for sure, as to every aspect of everything. because, now, i have to be much more circumspect about that. >> that was chris christie striking a note of caution. yet, that approach has been notably absent in the christie administration's response to the latest accusation from hoboken mayor, dawn zimmer. here's kim guadagno. >> mayor zimmer's version of our conversation in may of 2013 is not only false, but is illogical
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and does not withstand scrutiny when all of the facts are examined. the suggestion that anyone would hold back sandy relief funds for any reason is wholly and completely false. >> okay, if you are watching all of this and you are a major donor, watching chris christie and the people around him and you're a wig republican donor, deciding whether this guy is your ticket to the republican nomination, possibly the white house, doesn't it haunt you a little bit that christie so recently said this -- >> i work the cones, actually, matt. unbeknownst to everybody, i was actually the guy out there, i was in overalls and a hat. >> haven't you been burned once before? in fact, according to "the new york times," governor christie has, at a sunday reception of 200 top donors, told that regarding his 2016 presidential ambitions, come see me next year.
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that's probably a good move, given the current news cycle. joining me now, former governor of vermont, former chairman of the dnc, howard dean. and jeff smith, now an assistant professor of politics and advocacy at the new school. in 2004, smith ran against russ carnahan for the seat vacated by dick gephardt. smith went to prison after pleading guilty to obstruction charges stemming from that campaign. i'll start with you, jeff. i think we saw a massive escalation. this does not say that what dawn zimmer is saying is true. but what the stakes are, what is being alleged, and the involvement of the u.s. attorney's office, at the level that we now know, two hours meeting with dawn zimmer, an elected official in hoboken, her turning over the journals. you wrote a piece about what this meant. you said, yes, crest chris christie, the feds are out to get you, take it from me, i ended up in the clink.
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what does this mean from you as a political analyst and someone who's been on the other side of federal prosecution? >> first of all, this is a sunday on a holiday weekend that the u.s. attorney goes to meet personally with mayor zimmer. within 24 hours of her original revelation, i can only speak from experience, which is that my case took five years, really, to wind through the system. and when the u.s. attorney's office first really got involved, it still took about seven or eight months to go through. this is really on an expedited timeline. and i would be extremely concerned if i were governor christie. >> and howard, you've done the thing of running for president and you revolutionized the way that fund-raising work, but also had to raise money from a lot of people, and there are donors watching, and there's a big kind of big money game that happened in the beginning that has a lot to do with momentum. and if you're one of those donors watching this unfold over the weekend, what do you think -- >> the rules are a little different for him. we had small donors, and small donors will stick with you as long as they believe with you.
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big donors make their judgment about whether you can win. this is really serious. the bridge stuff, okay, he made a stupid mistake, you shouldn't victimize your own voters. not only did he do that, if this is true, there is someone credible with a contemporaneous record. the lieutenant governor better be careful, because the u.s. attorney is going to put her under oath. and if she says that under oath and it's not true, she's going to jail. this is a big, big problem. i think chris christie's presidential bid is dead. >> as of this week. because of this? >> because of this. because no matter how much it turns out, if you're a big donor, why would you buy this trouble? the stuff you just played, that's going to be in every attack ad, all fall, in 2016. >> the orange cones. >> not the orange cones with. the mayor zimmer and the lieutenant governor back and forth stuff. that's the issue, about chris christie's honesty. >> the pew poll has chris
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christie doubling. i don't think that captures what happened this weekend. but the other issue is, once you have federal law enforcement involvement, you're just operating on a totally different plane, just in terms of both like -- both in terms of the human stakes, people can go to prison and federal prosecution is no joke. but also in terms of the public stakes. federal prosecutor is not a thing you want associated with anyone in your administration. >> let me say a couple of things about my case, if you'll indulge me. my case started because someone who approached aides on my campaign ended up four years later car bombing his ex-wife's divorce attorney. now, that same person had put out a postcard during my campaign, which my aides knew about, which they asked me for my approval on. i said, don't tell me any details. that car bomb led to him being, you know, a chief suspect in that, which then he gave up one of my friends, who gave up one of my aides, who gave me up. and then, of course, they tried to get me to wear a wire and
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other people. so you see the way these things spiral out of control. >> where something starts, when we're talking about a federal investigation, is not necessarily where it ends up, and where something starts in a federal investigation, in which the power of the law looms over all people. do you want to go to jail or do you want to talk? do you want to go to jail or do you want to wear a wire? when that is brought to bear, lord knows what gets discovered? >> and i don't think he's thinking about the right things right now. at some point in a case like this, your political interests diverge from your legal interests. and you talked, governor, about him meeting with bunglers in florida. and maybe if he's thinking about his political viability in 2014, he wants to be a strong ria chair, but i would think, am i doing anything that would antagonize bridgette ann kelly, and maybe traipsing around with billionaires in florida while she is feeling like hunted prey maybe isn't the best message to send to her. >> that is a very good point. there was this talk about, can he survive this, can he not?
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let me play absolute devil's advocate here, and this all proves to be nothing. that bridgegate went no higher than we know it went. that it was concocted as a rogue thing. that the story from the hoboken mayor falls apart. and why can't he just say, i'm -- it seems to me, his best political play is, i am being hunted by the liberal media, and that's why you conservative and you conservative donors and you republican primary voters, that's why i deserve your support, because the enemy of your enemy is your friend. >> here's the problem that he has. first of all, i think it's -- the bridgegate could fall apart. i don't think it will, but it could. and even if it doesn't. there probably was no crime committed. maybe there was -- jeff's a lot smarter about this stuff than i am. >> unfortunately. >> unfortunately. but this -- if you hold up money, whether it's sandy money or something else and say you don't get the money unless you deliver my project, probably that's going to get you in jail, if they can prove it. the problem is not if they can
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prove it or not, i have no idea what the u.s. attorneys -- the problem is you have someone who wrote in their journal that day, the lieutenant governor told me the governor wanted this done and if i didn't get it done -- now, if that's proved true -- unless it's proved to be an absolute lie, which is incredibly unlikely given what we've already seen, why would you as a donor bet on this guy? you've got eight other candidates you can choose for presumably this stuff will not be an issue. why do you want to bet all your money on -- first of all, he'll have a hard time getting the nomination anyway. he positions himself as a moderate in a party that's not moderate. but secondly, why would you try to take this risk? surely, there must be some other moderates -- >> and the biggest problem, of course, these things also have momentum. and if more revelations come out, it's that sort of veil of -- if the vow of silence people have taken about -- if there are other accusations about this, you're really in trouble. howard dean and jeff smith, thank you, gentleman. coming up, on a friday
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night, we brought you some exclusive reporting on the company that is responsible for the chemical spill that's poisoned the water for more than 300,000 west virginia residents. we've done some more investigating and found out some fascinating and perhaps telling details about the man who owns freedom industries. we'll bring them to you, next. [ male announcer ] this is george.
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on friday night, we were the first to bring you the full story of a chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by freedom industries. the company that leaked a toxic chemical into the water supply for 300,000 people in west
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virginia. in which it appears, based on the court documents, the man identified by "the washington post" as the owner of freedom industries, cliff forrest, is the same man who started a new company with the capacity to secure a big chunk of freedom industry's assets while sidestepping much of its legal liability. even though these two companies are both run by someone named clifford forrest, a certified and a legal filing, the terms of this agreement were negotiated, quote, at arm's length. all this got us wanting to learn a little bit more about cliff forrest, so we spent some time looking into the man identified as freedom industries owner. the first thing you need to know is that he's a coal magnate. he owns rose bud mining company, which has more than 1,200 employees and is among the largest coal producers in ohio and pennsylvania, which makes him the apparent owner, both of a coal company, and a company that deals in chemicals used by the coal industry. and keep that connection in mind when you hear folks like west virginia governor, earl ray tomlin, try to put distance between big coal and the big
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spill. >> let me make it very clear, that this was not a coal company incident. this was a chemical company -- >> so clearly, use carbon processing. >> well, that's a debate. but the point is, the incident happened at a chemical company. >> there's another fact we talk about cliff forrest. after supporting president obama in 2008, he became part of the group of wealthy coal country republicans who sought to take him down in 2012. even handing out stop the war on coal firebomb ya obama yard sig his front office. and boehner claimed that no new action was needed, even as the water tainted by that spill was working its way downstream to cincinnati. a city just south of boehner's own ohio congressional district, prompting fishes there to close drinking water intakes as a precaution. meanwhile, back in washington, people still aren't sure if they should drink the water.
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asked today if the tap water was safe to drink, governor tomlin told reporters, and i am not making this up, it's your decision. joining me now, alana shore, reporter at green wire. alana, the context for cliff forrest and coal is this incredible kind of upsurge of political activism that we saw from the coal industry and coal companies and coal owners around the 2012 election, which became for them, a kind of waterloo battle, right? this idea that coal was going to be killed if barack obama was re-elected. >> absolutely, chris. and you know, this started, in fact, in 2010, when coal companies just packed money into john boehner's coffers, when his republicans, ultimately, took over the house. and it got even bigger in 2012, in terms of the industry's involvement on the congressional, as well as presidential levels. they hate the obama epa's regulations for power plants. they are still determined to stop them, even though they're already going through the process. >> you know, i am so confounded
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by how we are watching this play out in west virginia right now. because it just seems to me that no one is in charge and no one can give a straight answer on the basic questions that any citizen would want. so we have a situation here where it doesn't seem like it was anyone's job to test these chemicals. we have data from the company that produces the chemical in which everything from the repeated dose toxicity to whether it can cause cancer to whether it's reproductively toxic, there is no data available, okay? we don't really know anything about it. and so we have a chemical that's mysterious, its effects are unknown, and no one can tell us whether the water is safe to drink. is that about right? >> essentially. and that is, in large part, because our federal toxic chemical laws date back to 1976. it's a name that's a mouthful. the toxic substances control act. and, essentially, this decades-old law, grandfathered a lot of existing chemicals in, with very few safety testi inin
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requirements, this chemical in west virginia being one of them. so basically, it's big enough to drive a truck through. this chemical and many other ones we don't know a lot about in terms of human health risks. >> there's a proposal from senators manchin, rockefeller, and boxer to introduce some kind of reform legislation in the wake of this spill. those are some of the main items, establish a state inspection programs for chemical facilities, sets minimum inspection requirements and standards for facilities, directs states to identify at-risk facilities. my question is, are we seeing a gap in the law here, or are we seeing a gap in the enforcement of the law? and would this new piece of legislation fix it? >> well, the bad news is, we're seeing both. so, this legislation, if it passes, would also, honestly, chris, require another bill updating this tosca bill from 1976, in order to have stronger testing standards. so, you know, what we're talking about here in west virginia, from senator manchin, is better regulation of above-ground chemical storage. right now, the rules only apply
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to underground chemical storage. that's step one. step two would be updating this, you know, decades-old law i mentioned earlier. but then, as you say, it's still an enforcement problem, the government is chronically underfunded for inspectors. >> i'm always struck with something like this, that we're at the case that al qaeda decided to target a water supply in west virginia, and took out a sixth of the state's water supply, through an act of concerted, determined terrorism, the amount of resources that would flow to combatting that problem, the amount of political outrage there would be, the agree of attention there would be to it, would be absolutely off the charts. if it's just an accident, as a by-product and the way we take this rock out of the ground and burn it and put carbon in the atmosphere and power our homes, everyone just kind of looks the other way. >> it's funny you mention that, chris, because some lawmakers and advocates here in washington are talking about using the chemical security program, a totally separate way, that we lack at terrorist risks, to facilities like this, to tackle
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west virginia, because they say there'll be more support for that, for exactly the reasons you just talked about. >> that is everything you need to know about the state of environmental regulation in this country. elana schor, thanks for your reporting on this. >> thank you. coming up, the martin luther king jr. they won't be telling you about. me time and money. for over 18 years we've helped people take care of the things that matter most. join today. the comeback trail. there is no map. no mile marker. no welcome sign. one day you may find yourself here. and you'll need someone to bring you back. to carry you home. at liberty mutual, we believe with every setback there's a chance to come back and rise. liberty mutual insurance. auto, home, life.
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and only national is ranked highest in car rental customer satisfaction by j.d. power. (natalie) ooooh, i like your style. (vo) so do we, business pro. so do we. go national. go like a pro. the year before he was assassinated, martin luther king jr. wrote a book, called, "where do we go from here?" it was probably the best summation of his view of the world at the time he was murdered. at that time in king's life, he was focused on economic justice, ending poverty and building a strong labor movement. in his book, king calls for a guaranteed basic income and a job for every american, writing, "we must create full employment or we must create incomes." if those policies sound familiar, it's because both of those proposals were included in that recent "rolling stone" piece that went viral that the right freaked out about. >> 110 million, that's how many
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people died under communism last century. an impressive number, one that forgot. >> martin luther king jr. didn't view the struggles for racial justice and economic equality as separate. in 1961, he said, our needs are identical with labor's needs. decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age, security, health, and welfare measures. the overlap of those battles, those two battles, is apparent everywhere today. like, the battle to expand medicaid, to take one example. it may seem a simple quarrel over government spending or the size or role of government, but look a little deeper, and there's a pretty profound racial subtext. where medicaid is not being expanded, african-americans are disproportionately affected, particularly in those states where republican governors stand in the way. so it is fitting that moral mondays have come to king's home state of georgia. and today, at ebenezer baptist church, where king once preached, the current pastor of that church called for direct
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joe, thank you so much! richard, let me ask you, the final play, take me through it. >> well, i'm the best one of the game! will you try me with a receiver like crabtree, that's the result you going to get! don't you ever talk about me! >> who was talking about you? >> crabtree! don't you open your mouth about the best, or i'm going to shut it for you real quick! >> all right, before -- and joe, back over to you. >> that's how i talk to other cable news hosts. see, i don't sea that seahawks quarterback, richard her msherm giving the most memorable post-game interview i've ever seen. and the crabtree he was talking about was michael crabtree, who sherman said had been talking trash the entire game. last night, sherman pulled off an incredible play, play of his life, when he tipped a pass in the end zone, intended for crabtree, and it was intercepted, sending his team to the super bowl. the only thing people are talking about today is why was this black man so angry at this white woman? i'm only half joking here,
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because the backlash against sherman after that interview was swift on social media, with an absolute avalanche of racial invective, from people calling him, quote, an ignorant ape, to someone else tweet welcome quote, someone else needs to introduce richard sherman to george zimmerman. sherman, for his part, took to the internet today to write a column defending himself. to those who would call me a thug or worse because i show passion on a football field, don't judge a person's character for what he does between the lines. judge a man by what he does off the field, what he does for his community, what he does for his family. at first glance, you would think this is kind of strange, but in fact, sherman has been a contributor to a website run by "sports illustrated" for the last six months, and richard sherman is bright, charismatic, fareless and funny, a stanford graduate, and one of the best in the world at what he does. he is an endlessly fascinating dude. seriously, one of the most compelling athletes in all of professional sports. someone who can play the intellectual, the warrior, and
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the trickster, all with equal aplum, and his arrogance is commensurate to his talent, which produces unscripted momented like last night's interview or this from last march. >> i'm the top of my field. i'm all pro. i'm one of the best 22 players in the nfl. you're going to brush it off, but i don't think you're the best 22 anything. in sports, in media. in my 24 years of life, i'm better at life than you. >> okay. all right, that's fair. >> let's get down to the brass tacks. >> let's not get personal here. >> it's not personal -- >> do you think you're better than jarell reeves is right now? >> i'm better than you. >> joining me now, political strategist and football fan, tara, and my friend, darren with "the nation," where he is sports editor. let's begin with the interview and the taunting that happened afterwards. fair or foul, i'll start with you, roman? >> i think going into this game, you knew the type of player that richard sherman was.
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you knew he came from this era now that football has become like wwe. the bragging and it's entertainment. and i think that's his approach. right or wrong, that's his approach. >> but when you saw that interview, and when you saw him celebrating, he was making the choking sign to the sideline, were you like, that's not cool, dude, or were you like, hey, he's jacked up and this is entertainment. >> well, i think as a football player, and dbs do have a certainly personality, a certain panache that comes with being a db, you have to know this is your moment, your moment in the sun and enjoy it, but also know that a lot of guys paved the way before you did. and you don't have to go back to jim brown, and i don't have to get into that discussion, but, what the better quarterbacks in the league respond -- with dion sanders, prime-time, would he respond that way? the answer would be no. >> we should say, richard sherman just apologized an hour ago in a text message, i apologize for attacking an individual and taking the
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attention away from the fantastic game by my teammates. that was not my intent. dave, what was your reaction? >> i thought it was awesome. i thought he was about to call out the new age outlaws. that was a wwe reference. i thought it was an amazing moment, because -- and what's so hypocritical, so many sports writers complain about athletes that give the same canned responses all the time. say, good lord willing, we play one game at a time, good lord willing, we play one game at a time. and he's decried, not just by sports writers, but people on the right, who you always hear complaining about we live in a pc culture that polices speech and becoming femme nized. . and here's richard sherman speaking out, and all of a sudden, that's not okay. and richard sherman should be a w horacio alger story, and it's a test that want people to be passionate. >> it was fascinating how
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racialized it was. like mouthy black man, getting uppity, and i should also say, like, it's totally possible to not be into him talking trash after a game and have it not be motivated by racial animus. >> exactly. i personally thought his behavior was unsportsmanlike. i was an athlete this high school, i would not have responded that way. at least, that's what i'm saying for the record. i would not have responded that way, in all seriousness, but i will say this, though. was the response that he got, the racial response was so disturbing. and if you look at the fact, look at governor chris christie. people praised him, up until this moment, he was praised for jumping into people's faces, yelling at teachers, his wife was laughing as he was yelling in the face of a teacher near the jersey shore. when you see the contrast, and they say, finally, a hero standing up to those tough teachers, finally, a hero. and now him doing something very similar and he's lambasted. >> i want to talk about, by far,
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the most disturbing thing that happened during the prbroadcast that happened last night and it happened well before that interview, right when we come back. for what reality teacheu firsthand. in the face of danger, and under the most demanding circumstances. experience builds character. experience builds confidence. and experience... has built this. introducing the 2014 glk. the engineering and the experience of mercedes-benz. see your authorized dealer for exceptional offers through mercedes-benz financial services.
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and that appears to be what hit wilson, as he leads with the left shoulder. so, looks like shoulder pad to shoulder pad. >> as one of the brutal moments in last night's nfc championship game. we're back, i'm here with roman oben. there is this great tweet from a friend of the show. after the richard sherman thing, he said, why can't i watch these men concuss each other. that is the thing everyone's
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getting upset about. like, you just watched people get concussed, there was a gruesome knee injury, and it's like, really, that's what we're upset about, while we're watching this game. >> i've broken my leg twice. hand, a lot of injuries, a lot surgeries. and it's a part of the game, but i think what happens after the game and because the super bowl is here in less than two weeks, it's about the stories. this will be the story leading up to the super bowl. going back to richard sherman's comments, if he gets torched for a touchdown or if they lose and peyton manning throws for 400 yards, he'll seem like an idiot and everyone in the world will be laughing at him. >> and that's the reason people don't tend to be outspoken and mouthy as richard sherman. >> in football. >> precisely because the fates can turn. >> especially in football. at some point, he'll give up a touchdown, he's going to be older, there'll be a younger player that will challenge him and become the person he was
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when he was younger and it will come back to him. >> there's also this thing about, someone right after a play like that. i thought this is a great quote from priest holmes, who used to play football. dave, i want you to respond to this. producer todd cole dug this up. he says, it's like i have to become another person. it's like i have to become a warrior. and five minutes after the game ends, y'all are asking us questions about how we feel, what'd we think of this play, what it's like to lose, and we're supposed to talk like none of that just happened. those two things are related. the violence of what we just saw on the football field and being jacked up the way richard sherman was after that play, those aren't accidentally connected, those are intimately connected to what the sport is. right, dave? >> absolutely. that's the marketing of the nfl. they want to project their athletes as officers and gentleman. they want to be able to promote this 3 1/2 hours of highly, highly commoditized violence on sunday, and afterwards, it's when we take off our pads and go home to our families, and no mention of the cost to a lot of these families, when some of that violence spills out. and domestic violence is a
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serious issue among nfl players. not to mention the divorce rate of former nfl players. some statistics says it's 75 to 85%. and a lot of that is how you deal with your life after you live a very, very violent existence in your work life. and i don't think the nfl does nearly enough to help players deal with that once the cheering has stopped. >> you disagree? >> a lot of people come on and they blame the league. the league's -- the league is doing a lot. you can't save an entire generation, but player engagement, there's programs, players can take classes at harvard and get certifications. business entrepreneurship programs. so if you come in valuing yourself as a commodity, because you're only going to play 3 1/2 years, that's the average, you know what's going to happen at the end. so you're preparing for that. i took graduate courses during my career, so i could prepare for life after football. i'm not blaming the nfl for what happens, good or bad, after football's over. >> i have to disagree with you, because i think, and not fully, i have to understand, people have to accept responsibility, but these are very young men. and a lot of them come from
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environments that are extremely disadvantaged, and they are turned into products. and they are products that are, you know, they're not being developed personally. some universities do a wonderful job of developing these young men. but some universities, people are graduating 10% at unc, graduate not being able to read above a third grade level. that's a problem and that's something that needs to be explored. >> and we should note, to bring this back around, one of the interesting wrinkles here is richard sherman did graduate from stanford, and has a whole bunch of interests beyond football. he's writing a column and he talks about, you know, he had this great quote in the "sports illustrated" profile where he said, you know, there's this stereotype of a jock that doesn't care about anything else and i want to kill that stereotype. i want to get past the nerd/jock dichotomy. this is the guy that somehow became the face of thuggery for america because of a 30-second interview. and it shows the lack of complexity we have about the
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human beings who are throwing themselves around the fields. as 47 million of us watch and watch legs get broken and get swept up in all the pageantry and theatrics of it. roman oben, tara, and dave from the nation, thank you all. that is all in for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. >> i have taken to watching football the same way i watch horror movies. >> particularly the navarro play, that was really -- ugh. >> thanks, man. and thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. new jersey is the most densely populated state in the united states of america. people are more on top of each other in new jersey than in any other american state. of the top ten most densely populated cities and towns in this country, seven of the ten are in new jersey. and the combination of that population density and the very unlucky aim of a very large storm, the largest american --


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